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Is Zero a Number?

Namaste! Welcome to India. Did you try the sweets here? During my stay in India, I stumbled upon some marvellous facts on an empty number! The facts were groovy and mind-blowing. First, let's feast on the King of sweets, Badam Halwa before, we begin to discover empty number- Zero. The most intriguing question to me is zero a number? There are both philosophical and mathematical pieces of evidence to prove zero as a concept or a number. Get your ears ready cause I have a whole lot to share with you.


Is Zero a Number and its Mysteries?


Before we explore the emptiness, here is a brief history of zero. Zero is a symbol representing an absence of numbers. To fully understand this mystic number we need to go back to the origin of counting. About 37000 years ago, when the drama of counting began! At that time humans start to count as marking, what we call tally marks. The first written number system originated in Mesopotamia around 2500 BCE. Mesopotamians used the units one and ten and sixty. The symbol for number 1 was represented as a triangle’s tip facing down. The symbol for number 10 was represented as a triangle with the tip facing left. The symbol for sixty is a triangle’s tip pointing down with the small line.


Now let’s fast forward to 7th century India where zero finally came onstage. Indians,

symbolized zero as a single dot to tell the difference between numbers like 44, 404, and 440. The dot (zero) was used as a place holder and also considered a number. As years passed by the all-mighty dot turn out to be the symbol known as zero today. The word zero comes from the Arabic word Saphira means empty. Around the 17th century, English zero originated from the Italian word Zefiro. Cipher came into use which also shared the same meaning as zero (empty or nothing). Cipher later changed its meaning to define code. Codes were complicated methods and patterns to communicate. Codes were the programming language in computer technology. I am still wondering on How a shared empty origin zero is continuing to represent the number which represents nothing.




Why is Zero is so important in Mathematics?


If we think about it we never find zero in nature. From the quote of a Harvard Professor Robert Kaplan “Zero is in the mind, but not in the sensory world.” Zero doesn’t need to exist to be felt. According to this author even in a big empty sky, we get to see something present. Maybe zero existed before the Big Bang. John von Neumann, a mathematician who first explained zero in an extremely simple way. Pretend if we had one empty box, this shows a representation of the number zero. Now let's take a new empty box and place it in the original empty box. How many objects are in the first empty box? One. Now let’s take another box and place it inside the original box. Now there are two objects in the box. This simple mathematics is the foundation for our number system.


After all zero is a number which represents nothing, but why do we need it? Well, there are many answers to that question. Zero makes an excellent place holder in our number system. An example of how it makes a good place holder can be explained in this scenario. We wrote down the number 307. If zero wasn’t there then that number will become 37. Thanks to a number which means nothing, it is zero that solves the most complicated math problems. You might think that this is exceptionally basic. You could suggest using Roman numerals, but adding numbers will become a challenge in other number systems.


Zero has also found its importance in computer programming. Right now, you could be reading this article on a computer, tablet, or a mobile, but for this technology to work, we need the help of zero. The modern Binary system is based on the binary code symbolized by many ones and zeros.

Why is zero considered an intelligent human idea?


From calculus to even numbers such as zero, for us, all discovery and ideas have a far-reaching effect both mentally and rationally. In an experiment done by neuroscientist Elizabeth Brannon at Duke University. She studies how humans and animals symbolize numbers. Brannon clarifies that kids, under the age of 6 were not able to comprehend zero means nothing. If you ask them which number is smaller zero or one, they will most likely tell one is smaller. It is difficult for them to know zero is smaller. In her studies, she plays a game with 4 year-olds.


She put out a pair of cards on the tabletop and each of the cards there will be some objects on them. This study was made both on kids and monkeys. One card that will have 3 circles and the other card might have 4 circles. Brannon asked the kids to pick the card with the fewer number of objects. The card with no object was compared with a card with at least one object. The kids most likely got it wrong. She also tried the same thing with monkeys. Later the results were compared, and it seems that monkeys understand zero much better than the 4 year-olds.

Some Zesty facts about Zero

  • Zero is nor, a positive or a negative number; Zero is neutral

  • Anything raised to the power zero is going to equal one (0^0=1)

  • Zero is paired nothing but not used as an analogy

  • Zero also means an absence of a quantity, but zero can also be a starting point, as the start of a number line

  • Zero is an additive identity

  • Zero is the only number which can be added by another number, but still, equal the other number

Now the climax, there are a lot more mysteries about zero which are still undiscovered. Zero is a mystery that remains as an unsolved nothing. What was your favorite or most stunning fact about zero? Please tell me in the comments below! I hope to see you next time! Wait before you leave, I have one more fact to share. Did you know even bees can understand zero with their tiny brains! Bye!

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